Friday, January 22, 2016

Porto, Portugal

Porto wasn't our main sight when we headed to Portugal, but it was our base for the trip. Back in December I was able to score 20€ tickets RT from Frankfurt Hahn to Porto, for the long weekend in January, I couldn't pass up that deal, even if it was a 4 hour drive to the airport.

We flew out early Friday morning, since it's winter and it's finally snowing we decided to leave Thursday and spend the night near the airport. We stayed at The Venue. I found it through We arrived at about 7:30p, but our room wasn't ready, so we chatted with the owner, Marc, for a bit until it was ready. He was extremely friendly and since he was from the U.K.; he spoke English! It was 39€ for both of us to spend the night. He also offers a free shuttle to the airport AND free parking if we wanted to. Since we didn't want to wait around for a shuttle, I booked parking at the Frankfurt Hahn airport through their website. We parked in their P3 area, and paid around 20€ for 4 days.

It was a 3 hour flight to Porto, since it was an early flight 6:45a, and I didn't sleep well the night before, I slept the whole plane ride there.

We rented a car in Porto through Sixt. I actually found, and rented a car for the weekend for 32€ including insurance! The deal was perfect. At the time it seemed like everything about Portugal was falling into place. The problem I had with the company was that they took FOREVER. We missed the first shuttle because it was full, so when the shuttle came back and we finally got to Sixt, from when we got to Sixt to when we got our car, the wait time was 45 minutes! If you're not in a rush/have the patience/wanna save money, this is the place for you. Also when you're returning the car, give yourself 45 minutes. When we arrived to drop the car off there was only one person a head of us, and they were almost finished. But it still took just as long to turn in the car, even though we had already paid!

Fast forward 3 days, we arrive back in Porto on Sunday with the rain pouring down on us.
We explored the city, our first stop was to the Fort San Francisco. It was a 50 cent entrance fee. It was worth it. The Fort it self is pretty small, but you can climb to the top and get a pretty cool view of the Atlantic Ocean. We were able to see some surfers in action, trying to catch waves while it was raining. I guess a little bit of rain didn't bother them.

So we checked into our hotel, the Star Inn, it was a cheap option that had all the amenities we were looking for.
Since the rain didn't look like it was going to let up, we decided to head into town. We found a parking garage in the Historic Center of Porto (unlike Lisbon and Sintra, there is parking everywhere!)
In my opinion Porto is pretty blah, we didn't want to do a wine tour, and after walking around for 20 minutes; the town was kind of a let down.

We saw the main sights of the city, the cathedral and the famous bridge that only trains can go on and their "castle", which is actually just a castle wall, Germany has castle ruins that look better than this wall!

I might be a little biased because we got rained on, but after 30 minutes I was ready to go back to the hotel. Instead of going back into town for dinner and dealing with the rain, we wanted to find a place that we could just grab to-go. Luckily Drew found a Portuguese BBQ, Churrasqueira Potuguesa Da Prelada right down the road from us. This place was great! You can tell that locals are the only ones who go to this place, hardly any English was spoken but we managed to find a way to communicate. Drew and I wanted to get everything, and go full on fat boy status, but we held back. Even though all the food looked SOO good! The staff was extremely helpful and the food was amazing. Unfortunately, we had to go back because we realized we were short changed (not to self always check your change) but the staff was helpful and we had no problems once they figured out what happened. Haha.

Like I said, to me Porto was blah, especially after visiting Lisbon and Sintra. It was kind of a let down. But I hear people rave on and on about it, maybe we were unlucky. Don't let my experience make you want to skip it completely. Stop off for the day and have a couple glasses of Port wine, after all, Porto is where Port wine if from!